Photo Credit: Jamie Sabau (Getty Images)
With Patrice Bergeron still out, so Riley Nash fills in for him on the first line. Danton Heinen will be a healthy scratch with Matt Grzelcyk tonight, but according to Bruce Cassidy, Grzelcyk and others are “nursing these little nagging injuries.” The rest will be much appreciated as the Bruins start their descent into the last games of the season. Rask starts in net for Boston while DeSmith starts for Pittsburgh.
What I Am Looking Forward To
Two new Bruins are coming into the lineup tonight, Holden on defense and Gionta on the third line. Both seem to be just depth additions, but we’ll have to see if they can play the way that Tommy Wingels did in his debut. If these depth guys can all start playing well, it’ll mean that Bruce Cassidy can give more regular players a game off here or there to rest when they get near the end of the season. It also means that Cassidy will have options in the playoffs if someone goes down for a couple games.
Riley Nash got the first chance of the game early with a quick backhand shot from the slot, but Pittsburgh got the first goal on a knuckle puck from a wide open Olli Maatta. After a gritty shift and an icing, Rick Nash and his linemates Krejci and DeBrusk get the Bruins on the board after a great pass from Nash to a streaking Krejci. Chara started out the play with a simple cross ice pass to Nash. And if anyone was heading for a bathroom break after that goal, they would have missed David Pastrnak’s goal only a minute and eight seconds later. The Bruins headed to the power play after Evgeni Malkin held up a player going into the boards. This didn’t last long, as Rick Nash and the rest of power-play unit converted after some great board play and movement down low behind the net by Rick Nash, who would be the eventual goal scorer after redirecting Krug’s slap-pass to him. After a little bit of back-and-forth, Brian Dumoulin caught Jake DeBrusk in the face and went off for two on a high sticking call. He got lucky because the Bruins couldn’t convert. Shortly after Dumoulin got out of the box, old friend Phil “The Thrill” Kessel found the only opening that Rask had exposed while tight to the left post and bounced the puck off of Tuukka and in. The play settled down for at least a couple minutes while both teams started to play more physical, but as soon as you thought that maybe the teams would get into a possession type game, David Backes springs off of the side boards and fires a difficult shot over the left shoulder of Jarry to make it 4-2 Boston. And there was still 7 minutes in the period. After the goal, Patrick Hornqvist wanted to wake his team up and laid a devastating hit on young McAvoy. The point of contact originated directly on his head since McAvoy was looking for the puck, which seems to be like a pretty dangerous play, but no penalty was called since McAvoy had put himself in that position. A goal was called back from Pittsburgh because of a kicking motion AND a goalie interference. David Krejci went to the box the shift after because of a tripping call, and during the ensuing power play, the game got a whole lot chippier. The Bruins did a great job of moving the puck out of the zone while on the PK and did something you don’t see all that much. They would pass it to a forward moving up the ice and let them enter the zone and kill some extra time off the penalty. With the seconds on the clock dying out, Charlie McAvoy took a shot that was blocked and led to a 2 on 1 for Pittsburgh that led to a great slap shot by Sheahan that beat Rask on the blocker side with 0:02.2 left on the clock. The hectic period would end at a final score of 5-3 for Boston. We’re only 1/3 through this game.
BOS – Krejci (Rick Nash, Chara), Pastrnak (Marchand, Riley Nash), Rick Nash PP (Krug, Marchand), Backes (Gionta), Krug (Pastrnak, Riley Nash)
PIT – Maatta (Malkin), Kessel (Hornqvist, Malkin), Sheahan
The second period started with a Holding Stick penalty for the Penguins. After a shaky start for the Bruins on the man advantage, Nick Holden lasered a pass right to the stick of David Krejci for the 6-3 goal. Hornqvist was up to some more of his mischief in the second and McAvoy decided he was going to let Hornqvist know that he didn’t like his hit in the first period. Things escalated and it went to four on four where nothing major happened. Then, after Marchand did some fancy skating, he went to the box with Maatta. After the 4-on-4 expired, David Pastrnak took a lazy hooking penalty that put the Bruins on the penalty kill where they played pretty well and were able to kill it off. Then we had a battle of the Titans. A 6’9″ Chara squared off against the 6’7″ Oleksiak. It was a pretty good scrap, but both got tired early, but Chara did get a couple good shots. David Krejci found a rebound in on the edge of the crease to make it 7-3, and that was for his hattrick too. Pastrnak made a great move minutes later that pulled the goalie way out of the net, missed the shot and was redeemed by a great pass from Chara to make it a tap-in for Pasta. 8-3 Boston. The first 8-goal game for the Bruins since March of 2012. Krug was given a penalty at the end of the period for Interference and the Bruins headed to the dressing room with a five-goal lead.
BOS – Krejci PP (Holden, DeBrusk), Krejci PP (McAvoy, Holden), Pastrnak (Chara, McAvoy)
PIT – N/A
Pittsburgh started off on the power play, so the Bruins had to be ready for them to bring a lot of pressure early on. They were up to the challenge and killed off the penalty. The Bruins played well defensively early on, pushing the puck out of their zone and playing dump-and-chase for awhile. But on a defensive zone faceoff, Olli Maatta threw a shot on net that went off of two Boston players before it found the back of Tuukka’s net. Rask, while shaky at times, made sure the lead wouldn’t close any further, and played well the rest of the game. This was a statement win for Boston tonight.
BOS – N/A
PIT – Maatta (Kessel, Brassard)
Bruins fans should have a lot to cheer about. The second line is working wonderfully together, a third line center is still being effective in replacement of the probable Selke trophy winner, and the depth acquisitions at the deadline are effectively playing both sides of the puck. The real test will be how they play against Tampa Bay with three games starting just over two weeks from now.
KG’s Three Stars Of The Game
1st: David Krejci – How can I not give it to this guy? He played great all night, needing only a period and a bit to get a hattrick. He also had a good game defensively. He has really reminded people how good he is with Rick Nash now on his line.
2nd: Rick Nash – Nash had another big game, tallying a goal, an assist, and five shots in 15 minutes of play. He is exactly what Don Sweeney was looking for in a 2nd line winger. The trade keeps looking better and better.
3rd: David Pastrnak – He may have scored twice and had an assist, but Pastrnak did not play that great other than that. His first goal should have actually been Riley Nash’s goal, and he missed an open net seconds before his second goal. He still had three points in this game and contributed a great deal on offense.
MUP (Most Under-Appreciated Player): Zdeno Chara – Chara had a great game altogether. A very gritty, grind-it-out, 2011 Boston Bruins kind of game. He played hard along the boards and took on the young stallion Jamie Oleksiak, and got in a couple clean shots on him. A real captain kind of game.
BIRDHOUSE – Round-up of the best Tweets during the game
Saturday, March 3rd vs Montreal in Boston